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CONNECT THE WORLD

Unrest in Tunisia; Pope John Paul II Moves Closer to Sainthood

Aired January 14, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: The resounding cry on the streets of the Tunisian capital in response to the president who fled. The prime minister is in charge. And the people may finally be getting what they want.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

Tunisia is in a state of emergency. From the streets earlier, a sense of history in the making.

Also tonight, thousands of Pakistanis demonstrate in support of an assassin. And this time, they have a dire warning for the pope (ph).

Better news for the pope's late predecessor, John Paul II, how he has moved one step closer to sainthood.

That's CNN in the next 60 minutes.

Well, it started with a young man setting himself on fire, desperate over unemployment. It ended with the fall of one of the longest-serving leaders in the Middle East.

Weeks of protests in Tunisia apparently have ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. We begin tonight with the dramatic events that forced him to flee the country.

Here's Jonathan Rugman in Tunis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN RUGMAN, CORRESPONDENT, CHANNEL 4 NEWS, TUNIS, TUNISIA (voice- over): Outside Tunisia's Interior Ministry, a vast crowd gathered in scenes which will send shock waves across the Arab world.

Thousands of people yelling for revolution after 23 years of being ruled by the same man.

At first, the police held back, under orders not to shoot from Tunisia's president. A few demonstrators chance their luck and climbed on top of the ministry's doors.

"We come in peace. Don't kill us," their banner said.

And all around us the extraordinary sight of a people deprived of democracy for decades, now intoxicated by the sweet smell of freedom in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody around is so happy, and it's unbelievable.

RUGMAN (on camera): What do you want the president to do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want him to quit.

RUGMAN: You want the president to quit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, because we don't believe him when he says that he will bring us democracy, and all this. I think it's all lies. And I think the best thing for him is to change or to go out.

RUGMAN: What has he done wrong, the president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is a killer.

RUGMAN: He's a killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He killed tens of Tunisian people.

RUGMAN: Who can take over in Tunisia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) killer.

RUGMAN: Well, who can be the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look around you. Look around you. There is a lot of people who can take over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not -- we are responsible. We are educated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have -- we can take care of ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is historical what's going on right now. I mean, this is absolutely incredible. And for us to witness this and participate in it, it's incredible.

RUGMAN (voice-over): Tunisians watched from roofs and ornate colonial balconies, as people power confronted the police state.

Then a van drove past carrying the body of one protestor killed yesterday. The crowd roared in anger, and the police responded with tear gas.

The people ran for the safety of the back streets, shouting the president's name and calling him an assassin.

RUGMAN (on camera): There's extraordinary anger here mixing with the smell of tear gas. Either this is the first Arab revolution of the 21st century, or it will be brutally suppressed.

RUGMAN (voice-over): It's been a violent few weeks here, with scores of Tunisians believed to have been shot dead by the security forces, mounting anger on the streets forcing the president to dismiss his entire government tonight and call elections three years early.

Then a news reader announced a nationwide state of emergency, with no public gathering of more than three people allowed, he said.

And another development. The prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, announced that for the time being he is president, and that he will restore the dignity of the state.

It's been a remarkable day here, and nobody knows what will happen next -- a day which has witnessed a lesson in people power from the Arab world.

Jonathan Rugman, Channel 4 News, Tunis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, it's just after 10 p.m. at night. So, on the ground our Ben Wedeman is on the line from Tunis.

Ben, what's the mood?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, TUNIS, TUNISIA (on the phone): The mood is one of quiet. We came in from the airport just a few hours ago. And I did not see a single car moving.

There are tanks. There are APCs in the street. The police have said -- the army, rather -- has set up many checkpoints. At some of those checkpoints I saw young men on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs.

Certainly, it seems that after those scenes we were just looking at a little while ago of mass protests and demonstrations in the street, the army seems to have completely clamped down on that. So, it's -- it may be premature to say that the people have won this particular movement in the streets of Tunis.

What it appears is, it may be fitting into an old pattern in the Arab world where the army steps in to stop what is indeed a revolution.

ANDERSON: It is being dubbed the Jasmine Revolution. As Jonathan said, it could be the first Arab revolution of the 21st century. I hear what you in your reservations to us mixed in, but what is the significance, Ben, regionally do you think?

WEDEMAN: Well, the significance is absolutely enormous, because what you have is a popular movement with no real leaders to it, that's fueled by discontent with unemployment, with deteriorating living standards, with rising prices that managed to essentially topple a regime that was very well entrenched.

And this kind of development is being watched in many other countries where you have aging dictators who are actually ruling over countries with far worse conditions. You look at a country like Morocco, like Algeria, like Egypt, where the situation is much different. And the feeling is that all of these countries are ripe for the kind of upheaval that we've seen here in Tunisia -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman reporting for you from Tunis. Ben, thank you for that.

So, foreign tourists packing up and leaving Tunisia as fast as they can. Europe's biggest tour operators began evacuating thousands of German, British and Irish tourists on Friday.

But that got put on hold after the army took control of the international airport near Tunis and closed the country's airspace.

Many tourists who made it out say they're glad to be home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE TOURIST: The whole thing was just absolutely a nightmare. We (ph) just wouldn't have gone in the first place if we knew the trouble that was going on there.

UNIDENTIFIED ITN REPORTER: How were you told over there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE TOURIST: Basically through other people -- not actually people that was working there. It was just through other people who have heard of the whisper. And obviously, what you learn in the news over there.

So, we realized it's all kicking off, and stayed in our hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED ITN REPORTER: Do you think it was the right decision to bring you back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE TOURIST: Oh, yes, yes. That -- because in some places, it had got really bad. So, it's just like, (inaudible) told us to stay at our hotels and don't leave.

UNIDENTIFIED ITN REPORTER: How do you sum up your feelings now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE TOURIST: Never go to Tunisia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, leaders, as Ben said, throughout the Arab world are closely watching developments in Tunisia, possibly shaken that a president who ruled with an iron fist for decades could be ousted by violent protests in a matter of weeks.

Let's bring in Oliver Miles, who's a former ambassador, U.K. ambassador, to Libya and an expert on the region.

First the significance of the day's events as you see them, Oliver.

OLIVER MILES, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA: (inaudible)

ANDERSON: We have lost Oliver Miles for the time-being.

Should we move on and see what we can do, and see if we can get him back?

Oliver Miles, your expert on the subject. And I will try and get his sound back.

It's been an uprising organized online, supported through social media. This video is just one of many being posted on YouTube, a site that has been banned in Tunisia since late 2007. That is not stopping Tunisians from sharing the situation on their streets with the rest of the world.

Take a look at these pictures uploaded to YouTube on Thursday. They appear to show security forces using tear gas against protestors.

Blog groups are also spreading their news online.

Nawaa is an independent group of collective Tunisians. They use YouTube and Facebook to post comments, videos and images on their Facebook page. They have almost 10,000 fans.

And while we try and get Oliver Miles back for you, just been looking at some of the tweets that have been coming in over the past 24 hours.

And just about an hour ago, a Voice of Tunisia tweeting, "Tunisians, too early for congratulations. We did not succeed yet. Power is still in the corrupt RCD Party."

Another one from Noussab who tweets, "Obama: Yes, we can! Tunisian people: Yes, we do!!!"

Take a very short break. See if we can get your expert on the Tunisian story up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. As we were saying before the break, leaders throughout the Arab world will be closely watching developments in Tunisia.

Let's see if we can get our expert on the subject, Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, and somebody who knows the region particularly well. We've been watching and listening to what has been going on in the streets of Tunisia today.

The significance of the events as you see them, Oliver?

OLIVER MILES, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA: Well, first of all, Tunisia is quite a small and not very influential country in the Arab world. But still, it's being watched closely, as you say.

I think that the first impact was in Algeria. And although troubles have been going on in Tunisia now for nearly a month, it's only in the last three days that similar troubles break out in Algeria, but quite serious.

We don't know all the details, but it seems that, according to the minister of the interior, I think more than 700 policemen, police officers, were injured in demonstrations. Well, that suggests that they were pretty large scale, wide scale demonstrations.

But Algeria is a big country, and it's not going to take its tune from Tunisia.

ANDERSON: The Tunisians have gotten rid of the president -- he's fled -- a man they didn't like. Is the prime minister there, to your mind, any more popular, who's currently taking over the running of the country?

MILES: I think the prime minister is regarded as being simply in the pocket of the out-going president.

The fact is that the previous regime -- the regime which really is now over, the Ben Ali regime -- was very much a family affair. It was run by the family, and nobody else had very much power at all, as far as outsiders were able to make out.

ANDERSON: There's celebrations on the streets, to all intents and purposes. But Ben Wedeman reminding us that, you know, he has reservations as to whether those celebrations fit, as it were, at this point.

Is this the end of that regime as you see it?

MILES: Well, the fact is that the news -- although there's plenty of news coming out of Tunisia at the moment, it's confused, and some of it's contradictory.

For example, I saw a report earlier today that the president's family had gone to Canada. And then I saw another report saying that that had been officially denied, and I think proved to be false.

So, if the president has really left Tunisia, then I think that's the end of his regime. I can't imagine it'll come back.

ANDERSON: You have heard Ben talking about the regional implications which are perhaps wider than those of national interests at this point.

How do you read the story in the wider region, as it were?

MILES: Well, the troubles in Tunisia started, it seems, for reasons connected with the economy -- food prices, unemployment. These problems are very, very common to the region as a whole. In fact, you could almost say that they're endemic throughout the region, especially unemployment.

Of course, the question of food prices is not necessarily quite so difficult to handle in those countries which have a lot of oil money, which Tunisia does not. But nevertheless, there are problems.

And it's interesting to see that even countries like Libya, Morocco have -- and Jordan -- have taken steps in the last few days to try to stem the rise in food prices, because this is one of the basic problems.

Now, in Tunisia, that problem developed over a period of nearly a month. And, of course, it has a political angle, as well, because the Tunisian regime was extremely oppressive, extremely unpopular. The -- you've only got to look at some of the reports that the American ambassador has been sending in, which have been leaked for (ph) (inaudible) WikiLeaks stories.

I don't think it's just the Americans who have been saying things like this. One Tunisian was quoted as saying, unfortunately, we are no longer (inaudible).

ANDERSON: And we are having technical problems with Oliver Miles this evening.

But I think we've heard his words, and he's made his point on an important story in the region.

Let's move on to our next story tonight. The crowds at his funeral demanded it in 2005. Almost six years on from his death, Pope John Paul II is now a step closer to sainthood.

The late pope was one of the most influential and controversial leaders the Catholic Church has ever seen. He sent more people on the path to sainthood than any other pope in history.

Well, now it's John Paul II's turn. And hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the beatification ceremony set for May the 1st.

Now, that comes after experts concluded that the late pope was responsible for a miracle after his death -- a crucial part of becoming a saint. And they agreed that Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, seen here on the right, was cured of Parkinson's disease after her order prayed to the late pope.

Well, if a second miracle is attributed to John Paul II, he will be canonized as a saint.

Well, the process of beatification is usually lengthy. But following John Paul's funeral, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, waived the usual rules which require a five-year waiting period.

Well, CNN's senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, is in New York for us this evening. We welcome you to the show.

John, not without controversy, this not least because of this fast- tracking.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST, NEW YORK: Yes, that's right, Becky. I think there are sort of multiple strains of criticism, actually. I mean, there are those who would argue that this is simply moving with kind of unseemly haste.

You know, there would be some Catholic liberals who would say that what the Vatican is doing here is actually playing politics. That is, they're canonizing John Paul's conservative policies as much as they are the man.

And there might actually be some victims of priestly sex abuse and their advocates who would also argue that John Paul's role in the crisis needs a much deeper look before the Vatican takes this step.

That said, I think the conviction in the Vatican is that, at the grass roots, the case for John Paul's sainthood is basically a slam dunk. And I think that explains why they've decided that they don't really need to wait around in order to move forward.

ANDERSON: A much needed boost, possibly, for the current pope, given the difficult period that he has had, as well.

ALLEN: Well, that's right. I think Benedict XVI feels -- first of all, I think he feels a personal investment in trying to move this forward -- he was, after all, John Paul II's right-hand man for more than 20 years -- feels an incredibly close, personal connection to him. And I think he wants to be the one who formally lists John Paul's name among the saints of the Catholic Church.

Beyond that, of course, I think there is a sort of conviction in the Vatican that in the court of public opinion they've got an image problem, that John Paul II was, of course, a phenomenally successful global actor and a wildly popular man. And in some ways, you know, beatifying him and eventually canonizing him is an attempt to recapture some of that old John Paul magic.

ANDERSON: May the 1st is the date set for this. You say it's effectively a done deal. So, give us a sense, if you will, of what will happen on that Sunday. And why that Sunday?

ALLEN: Well, May 1st was selected, among other things, because the Catholic Church observes it as Divine Mercy Sunday. And the devotion to the Divine Mercy of God was actually launched by an early 20th century Polish nun by the name of Saint Faustina Kowalska, who was near and dear to the heart of John Paul II, who, of course, himself was Polish.

And so, it's a particularly apt day to celebrate the beatification of John Paul II.

What's going to happen is that there will be a ceremony, a mass, celebrated in Saint Peter's Square by Benedict XVI, in which John Paul was formally declared beatified. And that is going to be one of those classic, Roman, mega events in which you will see this absolute tidal wave of humanity wash through the streets of Rome and converge there in Saint Peter's Square.

Early estimates are we could be seeing as much as 1, 1.5, maybe even 2 million people -- the largest gathering of people in Rome since the events surrounding the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict in April of 2005.

ANDERSON: CNN's senior Vatican correspondent -- analyst, as we call you -- John Allen reporting for you this evening. Thanks, John.

Well, still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, Pakistan's battle over its blasphemy laws. These protestors want them to stay. And we're going to see politicians threatened with death over fights to change them.

Up next, there are more hijackings, more hostages, higher ransoms. Why pirates have become such a menace on the high seas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson.

Now, pirates may seem the stuff of legends, but they are a very real menace on the high seas.

Take it from a former hostage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPTAIN COLIN DARCH, FORMER HOSTAGE OF PIRATES: Every day, I had to use the ship's satellite telephone. And the main purpose was for me to relay the ransom demands and the threats.

They were very casual with these guns. It was a bit scary, because they were sort of wild and irresponsible, and drugged up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Captain Colin Darch is among the former hostages that we've heard from this week as part of a CNN special series on modern-day piracy. Well, it's an investigation that has brought us face-to-face with a real Somalian pirate and shown how this highly organized high seas crime is a thriving business, run with military precision.

(inaudible) desperate measures shipping companies are taking to become pirate-proof. But despite these efforts in the past year, more than 50 ships have been hijacked, and 625 crew members remain hostages, waiting for rescue or ransom. The numbers are quite remarkable, aren't they.

I'm joined now by an expert in piracy, the author of (ph) (inaudible) back (ph), Candyce Kelshall joining us here in the studio.

(inaudible), firstly, of those hostages, those 620-odd hostages, who are still being held of being released?

CANDYCE KELSHALL, MARITIME SECURITY EXPERT: I'm sorry. Could you just repeat that?

ANDERSON: What's the likelihood of the hostages being released?

KELSHALL: Well, it's virtually zero likelihood, because the whole purpose of having hostages is that you've got some sort of asset to hold on to, so that you can get this ransom money paid. The hostages are the most important thing that the hostage-takers could take.

ANDERSON: We've concentrated this week on Somalian pirates. And they are -- it seems, at least -- the most prolific. Why?

KELSHALL: The Somalian pirates are the most prolific at this point in time. And that's partly because we've actually created this industry. And we in the West are probably more guilty than most -- certainly more guilty than the pirates in this instance.

Let me explain what I mean by that. We're funding this industry. We've created it. We've broken the most important rules. The first one is, never negotiate with terrorists. We've done that with the very first ransom. And the second one now is that we're financing them.

ANDERSON: What are the links to terrorism?

KELSHALL: Well, I'm glad you asked that, because the links are substantial. Now, let me explain what I mean by that.

In the first instance, if it looks like, if it sounds like, if it walks like a terrorist, it is. Pirates' groups who engage in taking ships and hostages by hostile and violent means, in order to politicize a particular point of view that they have -- in this case it's illegal dumping, it's illegal fishing, it's toxic waste in their water. They've been very vocal about this.

And if you use pirates -- sorry, if you use terrorist methods and violent methods to get that message across, you're a terrorist.

But that apart, that apart, we still have very strong links with al- Shabaab, which is the terrorist major organization in the region.

ANDERSON: (inaudible) big questions this week as (ph) to (ph) how you fight piracy. They seem to be expanding their reach, not being contained - - at least, it seems, on the coast of Somalia.

Again, why?

KELSHALL: OK. The pirates have had to move their operations further out to sea. Now, the water that we're looking at them working in is almost a million square miles of water. They have had to go out, because of the operations of the NATO forces that are closer in.

This is a problem that is not going to go away. And it's not something that you can fight at sea.

So, even though the warships are out there patrolling -- and are deterring some attacks -- what's happening is that we still had 160 attempts. We still had 50-something ships taken last year. And that's not going to deter them. This is a problem that has to be solved on shore.

ANDERSON: So, you're saying this is a growing problem. Right?

KELSHALL: This is a problem that we've created, and that we are feeding. Because every time we pay a ransom, we're getting better equipment. We're financing terrorists. We're financing al-Shabaab.

You know, increasingly, they're getting involved in actually running these activities. But more importantly, they're beginning to do their own now.

ANDERSON: We hear mostly about pirates off the coast of Somalia. Where else are they prolific, as it were?

KELSHALL: Right. Right. We've got a bit of a problem in the South China Sea area. Now, this isn't a new problem. Previously, in the Malaccan Straits, there was a terrible menace for seafarers way back in 2002, 2003, 2004.

That got (inaudible) to with the tsunami, with the increased patrols in the Malaccan Straits.

But more importantly, what we found happening there is that there was a different type of terrorist -- of piracy, sorry. The piracy in the South China Sea tends to focus itself on -- it's more brutal, it's more opportunistic. It's more robbery motivated. They're not in the business of taking ships and taking hostages inasmuch as the Somali pirates are.

And what we find there is that that piracy tends to be linked to Philippine activity.

ANDERSON: We have to leave it there. We're going to take a very short break. We thank you very much indeed for coming in.

Coming up, we've got a world news headlines, and Western (ph) concerns (ph) grow over public support for extremism in Pakistan. Let me show you the latest rally in support of a man who killed a governor for his liberal beliefs. And we'll get Washington's take on the current state of its strategic partner.

You're watching CNN. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching CNN at just after 9:30 in London, I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, murder most popular. There's hundreds turn out in Pakistan in support of the man who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer. We'll hear from another politician, they're daring to speak up.

And a World Cup, but when? As FIFA's president tells us Qatar might be forced to hold its World Cup in winter, Asia's football chief says there's no reason for the country to break its promises.

Those stories in the next half hour for you. First, let's get you a very quick check of the headlines this hour.

Rapid developments in the unrest in Tunisia. The prime minister says he is now the interim president after longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. The military is running checkpoints and the capital is quiet. Earlier, security forces were seen beating demonstrators.

Rescue crews in Brazil are back at work trying to reach flood and mudslide victims. They had to stop operations on Thursday night due to treacherous conditions. So far, more than 500 people have been killed in the disaster.

Pope John Paul II is moving one step closer to sainthood. The Vatican announced today that the former pontiff will be beatified later this year. He's credited with healing a nun with Parkinson's disease. Experts say that qualifies as a miracle.

They shouted criticism of the pope and demanded freedom for a confessed assassin. Demonstrators in Pakistan once again rallied in support of the country's blasphemy law earlier and against all those who oppose it. As Reza Sayah reports, many believe death is a fitting punishment for government officials calling for change.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MEN SHOUTING IN URDU)

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a frenzied rally just outside of Islamabad, a warning for the pope to keep his nose out of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you challenge our respect, when you challenge rasula (ph) law, sallallahu alyihi wa salam (ph), and we'll take the revenge of the disrespect of the prophet, sallallahu alyihi wa salam (ph), doesn't matter whoever does it.

(CROWD SHOUTS IN ANGER)

SAYAH (voice-over): Thousands attended the protest that came days after the Vatican called for Pakistan to repeal its controversial blasphemy laws that say whoever defiles the name of the prophet Muhammad shall be punished by death or imprisoned for life.

(CROWD CHANTING)

SAYAH (voice-over): The laws came under sharp focus when this man, Mumtaz Qadri, murdered a liberal Pakistani politician who dared to criticize the laws.

(CROWD SHOUTING)

SAYAH (voice-over): Hardline religious groups have praised the killer, calling him a hero. Here, the killer's picture adorns a banner alongside the cleric who allegedly inspired him. The cleric now wanted by police.

SAYAH (on camera): Ever since the shooting, there's been a lot of protest in Pakistan. Pictures have been powerful, they've been extremely passionate. The perception here in Pakistan and outside is that there's this mass movement in support of the killer and against Pakistan's moderate voices. That's the perception. But the reality is a little bit more complicated.

SAYAH (voice-over): Salman Taseer, the politician who was gunned down, was on a campaign to change Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Too often, they were used to persecute minorities, he said.

(CROWD CHANTING)

SAYAH (voice-over): But protesters here say he wanted to wipe out the laws, an act they see as an attack on Islam. "He was definitely trying to repeal the law," says this man.

This teenager agrees. A widespread belief that Taseer was on a mission to repeal the laws has fueled a conspiracy theory against Islam.

NOOR AL MUSTAFA, PROTESTER (through translator): "No doubt, he was an agent," says Noor al Mustafa. "After the pope's statement, it is clear where he was getting orders from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been forced to get into that position.

SAYAH (voice-over): For the killer's lawyer, even criticizing Pakistan's blasphemy laws is an attack on Islam, punishable by death.

TARIQ AL HAQANI, ACCUSED KILLER'S LAWYER: I'll always stand there that anyone who is disrespectful to rasula (ph) law, sallallahu alyihi wa salam (ph), in law, there should be -- there is a punishment to death. It will remain there, and we will protect it.

SAYAH (voice-over): The assassin's lawyer says his client should be set free because he was compelled to defend his faith. For now, Qadri remains behind bars, viewed by thousands of supporters who believe he killed an enemy of Islam, not a politician who simply wanted to improve the law. Reza Sayah, CNN, Rawalpindi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, support for Qadri and his extremist view of Islam stretches across all levels of Pakistani society.

You may remember these pictures of Qadri when he was first taken to court in Islamabad. Crowds of lawyers gathered around him to chant their support, slap him on the back, and shower him with rose petals. One even draped a garland of flowers around his neck. They believe Qadri was justified in using bullets to silence a critic of blasphemy laws.

Well, there is an opposing view in Pakistan. We don't often hear it in public, perhaps for fear of repercussions. Still, there have been a few street demonstrations against the blasphemy law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(WOMAN SHOUTING IN URDU)

(CROWD CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, these protesters showing support for Sherry Rehman, a parliament member who refuses to be silent or back down. She's received numerous death threats after proposing amendments to the blasphemy law, namely, abolishing its mandatory death penalty.

Well, these demonstrators are yelling, "Have shame! Have shame! Accept Sherry's bill in parliament!" Earlier, I spoke to Sherry Rehman herself and asked her about those death threats and whether she fears for her life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHERRY REHMAN, PAKISTANI PARLIAMENT (via telephone): How far, there is something or the other being said. And I'm not the only one, I'm sure, because there is a lot of -- a lot of people, now, speaking out, despite the fear that this assassination, this very tragic death has brought into the atmosphere.

There are -- every Friday, now, there are religious groups that are -- I wouldn't even say they're religious groups. These are political parties that are organizing campaigns and rallies in each city to ensure that no one even talks about this anymore. Now, you can't silence discourse on the laws of the land.

ANDERSON: Those with a lesser constitution than yours would feel very unsafe at this point. Do you feel safe?

REHMAN: Naturally, I am human, and one does feel, obviously, that there is -- there are restrictions on my movements. Many people have warned about the possibility of strong reprisals from the religious right that is organizing daily and gathering steam on the street.

But I am trying to stay committed to remaining here as long as I can. It's not a question of running away or anything. The point is, how one pursues one's goals.

ANDERSON: Sherry, why do you think Salman Taseer's assassin was showered with rose petals as he entered court?

REHMAN: It's an index of the growing power of fundamentalism and Islamism in the streets. And we have to really understand that for -- when Pakistan is pressured to fight terror, for instance, or conduct military operations, it's very difficult to meet all these challenges at the same time. But you can't just fight terror with the barrel of a gun.

ANDERSON: Does that extremism scare you?

REHMAN: Naturally, extremism -- anybody's extremism should scare anybody, because it informs no rational discourse. It mobilizes mobs that can lynch within minutes. And you saw what happened to Mr. Taseer. It was something similar to what happened to Benazir Bhutto.

She, too, had committed herself to the fight, the larger goal of fighting extremism. And she fell, martyred to those bullets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: With politicians like Sherry Rehman becoming harder to find in Pakistan these days, some Western nations are worried that the Pakistani government is essentially being paralyzed by religious extremists.

Well, I spoke earlier with PJ Crowley who, of course, is spokesman for the US State Department, and I began by asking about the outpouring of support in Pakistan for Governor Taseer's killer, and this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PJ CROWLEY, SPOKESMAN, US STATE DEPARTMENT: Certainly, we do understand the concepts of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, the ability of anyone in Pakistani society to make their views known. But we really do need to see the evolution of a civil society in Pakistan, one that can work within peaceful means to transform a country.

We had a -- what we felt was, in Governor Taseer, a statesman, somebody who was looking to find peaceful solutions to Pakistan. And we are quite distressed at some of the reaction to this.

ANDERSON: Do you see the clear march of extremism?

CROWLEY: No, actually, I think we commend the government for taking very courageous steps over the past couple of years. And certainly we have to keep in mind that, in combating extremism within Pakistan, no country has suffered more than Pakistan, not only in deaths of civilians, but the deaths of military soldiers as they have gone after extremists in Swat and South Waziristan.

Our message to Pakistan is that we are -- we are with you. We are -- this is a partnership. The extremist threat in Pakistan is a threat to Pakistan and to other countries. It is going to take some time to work through this but, obviously, part of this is to help Pakistani citizens understand the implications.

ANDERSON: The US is committed to Pakistan on a long-term partnership. What if an increasingly Islamicized Pakistan doesn't want to work in partnership with Washington going forward?

CROWLEY: Well, I think what's important here to understand is that the extremism, which is a threat to Pakistan, doesn't stay in Pakistan. We've had terrorist plots that have come to our shores, and certainly come to others', including in Europe. So, this is a challenge for the region, it's a challenge for the world.

It's why we are investing significant money, both on the military side and the civilian side to develop a civil society, to develop an economy that -- to develop more closer connection between the Pakistani government and its people.

There has been progress, we feel. But I think this is, perhaps, a teachable moment, a learning moment. Pakistan needs to step back and understand the implications of this political assassination, this violence.

Just as, to some extent, we in this country have taken a step back in terms of self-examination in the light of some violence in this country in recent days, it's very, very important to reflect on what this represents, the challenge to peaceful, moderate expression, and see how Pakistan can move forward from this point.

ANDERSON: PJ, what is the message to Zardari, today, from President Obama?

CROWLEY: First of all, the president meeting with President Zardari, Secretary Clinton is part of that meeting. We do express our condolences for the loss of the governor and what he represents for civil government and civil society in Pakistan.

But the message is a recommitment that we are with Pakistan for the long haul. We have a strategic dialogue with Pakistan, we're engaged on a variety of fronts, both economic, political, security, civil society. And that commitment is unwavering.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: PJ Crowley on Pakistan, a story that we will, of course, stay with over the course of 2011 for you.

Up next, a game of two halves. Now, one of two seasons, potentially. The debate over Qatar's World Cup heats up as the Asian football chief takes on FIFA. More on that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: All right. Hitting the right temperature. The Asian Games in Qatar proving that the tiny Gulf nation can host a major football tournament. But don't be fooled, it's January. Temperatures are a balmy 21 degrees Celsius, and Qatar's World Cup is still the center of a heated debate.

The world of football is used to rifts and rivalries, isn't it? But it's rare that the future of an entire tournament is at stake. Asia's football chief has waded into the debate over whether Qatar can physically hold the 2022 World Cup in its typical 50-degree summer heat.

In a moment, we're going to hear why FIFA president Sepp Blatter thinks that that is unlikely. But Mohamed Bin Hammam says, why not? Speaking on Sky News, he said it would be unfair to football's stakeholders to switch the time of the tournament without their approval.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMED BIN HAMMAM, PRESIDENT, ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION: It is not our business -- our business to organize a comfortable World Cup in June and July, and that's what you have promised the world, and we will stick to our promise and are keeping our promise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Bear in mind, Mohamed Bin Hammam is also an executive member of FIFA. Now, contrast his answer with this. In an exclusive interview, CNN's Pedro Pinto put the same question to FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEPP BLATTER, PRESIDENT, FIFA: If you ask me, the percentage to play in winter is definitely over 50 percent. It means that this is more than a probability to play in wintertime. Because also for the -- for the spectator, for the football, and to protect footballers and also spectators, finally.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: But do you think it's fair after the vote took place to say, "We can have it in the winter?" A lot of people are saying, well, they bid for a summer World Cup, now they're going to get it in winter. That's not fair.

BLATTER: You can say it is not fair, but the final decision has not yet been taken. But it would be unfair for the players -- to the players now to play in summer when there is a possibility to play in winter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, mixed messages. This spat over the Qatar World Cup is really just the tip of the iceberg for FIFA. The last year has been fraught with controversy. Let's bring Terry Baddoo in from CNN Center to break this down for us. I'm not sure what I understand will happen at this point, do you?

TERRY BADDOO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems like they're obviously going to have take another vote, having taken a vote to give it to Qatar in the first place, they're going to have to vote whether to shift it.

Now, obviously, from an organizational point of view internationally, it's an absolute no-brainer to move it to the wintertime, because the temperatures are just too hot. And it's not unprecedented in terms of major sporting events. I went to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in September. They were the Summer Olympics. They were moved because that was the optimal time to host them in Australia.

Now, of course, it is part the old "club versus country" argument. The clubs, especially in Europe, don't want their season disrupted. But it's once very four years, and we are talking about 11 years away. So, there's plenty of chance to plan the Champions League, the Premier League, the La Liga, Serie A, et cetera, et cetera, around a winter World Cup.

So, personally, I don't see that it's a major problem. I'm confused as to why people are so vehemently against it. I'm also confused as to why FIFA never thought of this in the first place but, I guess, better late than never, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, all right. Sepp Blatter, he hasn't had a good sort of twelve months, has he? What else did Pedro get out of him?

BADDOO: Well, he talked about the human rights issue, of course. Qatar's reputation and treatment of gays and women has come under scrutiny. Inevitably, human rights is a big issue. But it's no bigger an issue now than it was at the time that the vote was taken and Qatar got the nod. And all FIFA and all Blatter was able to tell Pedro is that he hopes that things will change. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLATTER: We will push Qatar to make sure that the World Cup can be played in such conditions that all the World Cups have been played, and that the human rights are respected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BADDOO: And he also told Pedro in that interview that he personally was open to the idea of goal-line technology. Of course, he alone is not responsible for deciding whether that comes into play or not but, of course, being English, we remember the Frank Lampard goal that wasn't against the Germans and, really, it has to come in.

Blatter is facing opposition from people such as Platini who say that it could be the thin end of the ways, that we get goal-line technology, then we start having video replays all over the pitch, slows the game down, et cetera, et cetera. But Mr. Blatter felt that, possibly, goal-line technology will come in at some stage. Becky?

ANDERSON: All right. Great start to 2011, isn't it, for Mr. Blatter?

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: I guess it's just kind of run of the mill. All right, good stuff. Thank you for that, Terry Baddoo for you from CNN Center with your sports news.

Up next, a flash mob wedding, a baby that only says "no," and this, how a cross-eyed possum generated hundreds of thousands of Facebook friends. We're going to break down your top web stories this week, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A couple of minutes to go, it's time to look at the week in viral videos for you. Phil Han takes us through the latest goings on in the world of social media. This week from the cute to the slightly unseemly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (on camera): From the weird to the wacky, the serious to the scientific, it's been another exciting week on the web across social media, and lots of standout stories from the past seven days.

First up, though, let's take a look at one of the most popular videos on YouTube this week. It's racked up more than 1.7 million hits, and it's all about a baby girl named Charlotte.

JEREMY CLAIRE, FATHER: Do you love your mommy?

CHARLOTTE CLAIRE, 16-MONTH OLD BABY: No.

JEREMY CLAIRE: Do you love me?

CHARLOTTE CLAIRE: No.

JEREMY CLAIRE: Do you love your daddy?

CHARLOTTE CLAIRE: No, no, no.

HAN (voice-over): The home video was taken by Jeremy and Anne Claire from Nashville, and they recorded their 16-month-old daughter during bath time after a long car trip.

ANNE CLAIRE, MOTHER: She was on a roll, and we just kind of started asking questions.

HAN (voice-over): Now, no matter what the question, the answer always remains the same.

ANNE CLAIRE: Do you want a million dollars?

CHARLOTTE CLAIRE: No, no.

HAN (voice-over): Next up, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra has just been announced for 2011. One hundred and one musicians from 30 countries were chosen to travel to Australia in march for a series of concerts at the Sydney Opera House.

The musicians, who are between 14 to 49 years old, sent in audition videos last year via the site. And what makes this orchestra so unique is that none of these musicians have ever played together before.

(PLASTIC HORN PLAYING "RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER")

HAN (voice-over): Now, to the weird. This possum has been dubbed "Heidi the Cross-eyed Possum," and she's become a huge internet celebrity overnight. Heidi lives at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany and, after pictures of her were released online, her story went viral. She's got her own Facebook fan page and even music videos are being created in her honor.

HAN (on camera): Now, this was a big winner online. Russian architect Alexander Remizov has designed this slinky-looking creating that could be a model for how we live in the future.

HAN (voice-over): Dubbed "The Green Ark," the eco-friendly dome could house up to 10,000 people and would be powered from an internal wind generator that runs through the center of the structure.

Now, it would be completely covered in silver panels as well and, believe it or not, could even be built on water. The project is still on the drawing board, but its creators believe the ark could house anything from offices, hotels, and even apartments.

HAN (on camera): And finally, there's this video of a flash mob in a shopping mall in Boston. People met up to start singing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

HAN (voice-over): But what makes this flash mob so different is that a couple actually got married in the middle of it all. Jon and Caroline Kleiman said their vows in the middle of the mall while people hummed in the background as unsuspecting shoppers looked on in confusion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pronounce you husband and wife.

(CROWD CHEERS)

HAN (on camera): Well, those are just a few of the best bits from the past seven days on the web. Tune in next week to see if you missed anything. And, of course, connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/CNNconnect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, Phil Han. And finally tonight, we want to tell you that for next week, this show will have a new lead-in. His name is Piers Morgan. His guests will invariably need no introduction. Be sure to join us next week for the premier.

Oprah Winfrey will be Piers's first guest in a week that also includes Condoleezza Rice, Ricky Gervais, Howard Stern, and George and Nick Clooney. For viewers in Europe, it'll begin this Tuesday at 20:00 in London, 21:00 in Berlin.

On a Friday evening here in London, that is your world connected. I'm Becky Anderson. "BackStory" is up next here on CNN after a very quick check of the headlines for you.

END